Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

First gay couple wed in France amid tight security after controversial new legislation sparked violent protests

Vincent Austin and Bruno Boileau tie the knot in historic wedding in Montpellier

Why is it that Europe stigmatises modern Hungary?

There have been eruptions of racial hatred in France and the Netherlands without the same questioning of their fundamental democracy, says Hungary's Deputy Prime Minister

Peter Sunde

Career change: Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde to stand in European Parliament elections

A co-founder of Pirate Bay has decided to make a radical career change and stand in the 2014 European Parliament elections in Finland.

German neo-Nazi accused of ‘vile’ murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman

As the trial resumed of the sole surviving alleged member of a gang of neo-Nazi killers, Beate Zschäpe was accused of complicity in the murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman.

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power

Thousands of leftist supporters march through Paris in protest over Hollande's first year

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris today to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power, criticizing the leader for reneging on his promises to rein in the world of finance and enact economic stimulus.

NF founder Jean-Marie Le Pen leads a Paris May Day rally

France takes to the streets as disaffected voters turn to far-right

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of France in traditional May Day rallies marked by calls for an end to President François Hollande’s austerity policies, which many blamed for record numbers of jobless.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warns government against using English language

Ayrault asks his ministers to stop using English words in their work

Anti-gay marriage protesters in Paris on Tuesday night

Church versus Republic: Disturbing gay marriage protests stir old demons in France

World Focus: Success of the the demonstrations has been built on right-wing fury

Clashes between protesters and riot police in France after gay marriage law clears last hurdle

Relief in Parliament contrasts with ugly street battles as right-wing protest turns violent

A pro gay marriage militant is arrested by anti-riot police officers during a demonstration by supporters of the anti-gay marriage movement 'La Manif Pour Tous' (Demonstration for all!) in Nantes, western France. The final vote on France's landmark bill allowing gay marriage has been fast-tracked to next week and has proved hugely controversial in a country that is officially secular but predominantly Catholic (AFP)

French politicians scuffle over same-sex marriage legislation

Scuffles broke out in the French parliament in the early hours of as right-wing opposition to a gay marriage law becomes increasingly strident and ill-tempered.

Nicolas Maduro gives a victory speech in Caracas early yesterday

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles refuses to throw in towel after narrow presidential poll defeat to Nicolas Maduro

Opposition leader calls for recount ‘of every vote’ in Venezuela’s disputed presidential election

A coffin is carried up the steps of St Paul's Cathedral during a rehearsal for the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher funeral: Demonstrators 'given go-ahead' to turn backs on coffin during procession as guerilla protest plans gather pace

Nearly 300 protesters sign-up to turn backs on former Prime Minister's coffin during procession

Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela election in highly contested result

Voters narrowly elected Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor as president today, in a razor-close election.

Donald MacInnes: I’m possibly better at one-to-one stuff

Tales from the Water Cooler

Gallery: How the front pages covered Margaret Thatcher's death

The front pages of all UK national newspapers this morning led with yesterday's news of the death of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher.

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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before